Calvary Chapel has more than a few critics–scratch that, Calvary Chapel has a hell of a lot of critics, from folks who don't like its child-molester protecting ways to former members virtually excommunicated because they dared criticize founder/leader/Ra Chuck Smith, to other evangelical Christians who think Chuckie, true to the church's Jesus People origins, preaches a Gospel that's the theological version of a Peter Max poster.
But now, a new wing of critics is taking aim at the mothership with a fascinating angle: atheists who claim Calvary Chapel has an undue presence in Camp Pendleton, and that teaching their “doomsday” theology to troops is potentially disastrous for the future of this country.
That's the charge that three groups–American Atheists Inc., the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation–made in an August 6 letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. The Marine Times reported that the groups are mainly complaining that officials at Pendleton are denying them equal access to the facilities while allowing Calvary Chapel and other Christian organizations to have free run of the area.
In particular, though, they blast Pendleton's decision to allow Chuckie's troops so much freedom. “We are disturbed that the government is giving such extensive support, including assets, resources and personnel, to a single sect of Christianity,” the groups wrote. “Even more troubling is the 'doomsday' nature of [Calvary Chapel]. … The last thing Camp Pendleton needs is a large group of well-armed Marines convinced of an imminent doomsday crisis.”
Smith, of course, has a wacky habit of insisting he knows when the End Times are coming–who can forget when he said the end of the world would happen in 1981, and it didn't happen?
Chuckie denied the allegation to the Marine Times, but was also nice enough–for once!–to say he's not opposed to atheist groups at Pendleton. If only he was as nice to Muslims…